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What To Do With Souvenirs After A Trip?

I know a good souvenir when I see one. I buy it as well, and there you have my problem. Because what do you do with your travel memories once you’re back home? A fabric lampoon from Laos, a Kimono from Japan (including wooden flip flops and socks with pre-shaped toes), bags of obscure spices from Portugal, two handmade quilts from India, heck, even a Yak-woollen winter hat and matching slippers from Nepal. It all seemed like such a good idea at the time. But at home, you find that the conical hat you’ve been guarding with your life during your trip to Vietnam doesn’t quite fit with your woollen turtle neck sweaters back home. Or that your family doesn’t actually like listening to your didgeridoo practice.

Most souvenirs in my house usually end up gaining dust in a forgotten corner of my house.

 Travel Memories - Keeping Souvenirs

I like hats. No. Really.


Storage ideas for souvenirs

Then –as often- IKEA turned out to have the solution to all my problems. From their frames and posters section, I picked up these little black shadow boxes and started to fill them with everything from my past trips that would fit into it.

On the next trips I made, I promised myself to only buy souvenirs that would fit into one of these little boxes.

My wall is starting to look quite artistic now, and it brings back a lot of travel memories when I look at them. Another great plus side is that the souvenirs don’t get a layer of dust on them at the same time.   Travel Memories - Keeping Souvenirs


More ideas of what to do with souvenirs

Some of my travelling friends have the same problem as me. We could start a support group for souvenirs-cluttering-travellers. But as always, the creative traveller finds ways to solve this problem and comes up with more clever ideas to keep and organize holiday souvenirs. What about:

  • Buy only souvenirs that you can use as decorations in your Christmas tree. That way, you can keep them in a box all year and bring them out in December only. It will bring back lots of travel memories all at once!
  • Bring back flat key chains from a country/city and stick them in a postcard-size frame (IKEA has them as well – of course). You can decorate the background with gift wrapping or wallpaper-samples that you can pick up at your local paint shop.
  • Keep on buying just 1 type of souvenirs: only magnets (on the fridge or whiteboard), only flag badges (sew on your bag or a pillow), only shells (display under glass table or on a shelf, but check customs rules & regulations first), only sand to fill little jars or only teddy bears with country specific clothes on (my mother in law has a holiday-stuffed-animal-shelf in the toilet…)
  • Have a clear idea of what to buy before leaving. Does the country you’re going to have a specific craft? Get 1 item to decorate your house with and stick to it… if you can.

Travel Memories - Keeping SouvenirsMy Europe Shadow Box (featuring the UK, France, Czech Republic, Sweden, Denmark, The Netherlands, Italy, Austria and Germany)


Is there something silly you always buy, no matter where you go?

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20 Responses so far.

  1. Julie Wetz says:

    I love these shadow boxes. What a great idea!
    I always buy two things when I travel, if I see them: souvenir pennies and postcards. I have boxes for both. But then there are the other things: the pieces of artwork that just appeal to me for whatever reason, or the jewelry. Or the little knick knacks that are scattered around my house. I was just thinking about buying shelves to display these.

    • thetraveltester says:

      Thanks for the nice comment Julie. I know what you mean, I always take postcards and art too, but I need a frame-rotating system for displaying it all (and I haven’t even seen most of the world yet!). The boxes really control my habit of buying everything on a trip, which makes my boyfriend really happy too :)

  2. The Guy ✈ says:

    It is definitely a problem when you’ve been travelling for over a decade. I tend not to get things unless they are a gift for someone else now. Problem is that my fiancee is building up a wide collection of cuddly toys!

    • thetraveltester says:

      You can never have enough cuddly toys, I think! My mother-in-law always gets stuffed animals from all around the world and keeps them in the toilet, haha

  3. www.ShaunsCrackedCompass.com says:

    I never really buy souviners. I keep ticket stubs and pamphlets for places and throw it all in a box that I go through from time to time.

    • thetraveltester says:

      I wish I could do that, saves me a lot of extra luggage :) Unfortunately I’m a souvenirs-slave. And I take all the tickets and brochures with me as well, come to think of it, ahhw!

  4. The shadow box idea is fabulous -
    Great way of keeping all the bits together, and so cohesive :)

    • thetraveltester says:

      Thanks Linda, I also love the way they all look together. I’ve got two more of India and Nepal, will post when I’m back home in the next weeks.

  5. GoYvon says:

    I always buy magnets. I have quite a few now. Although some are here with me in China, some are in boxes in NL…
    I really like your idea of the boxes!
    Lately I have been buying cloth & posters which I can frame.

    • thetraveltester says:

      I like magnets too, they’re on the fridge :) Cloth is a great idea too! Would be great to make pillow cases from fabrics gathered all around the world. Good luck in China!

  6. Aiko says:

    The shadow boxes are so cool!

    I like the idea of just buying one item but haven’t quite decided what item it will be, so I currently have small collections of different items. LOL.
    Aiko recently posted…Revisited: Sainte-ChapelleMy Profile

  7. Karisa says:

    Great ideas here! For all my tickets and small souvenirs I often stick them in my travel scrapbooks. I’ve also turned a little metallic tuk tuk from Thailand into a Christmas ornament. <3
    Karisa recently posted…New Years in New OrleansMy Profile

    • Nienke Krook says:

      That Christmas ornament sounds really cool Karisa! I had a friend who bought an ornament everywhere she travelled too, not always Christmas related, but just quirky items that would go in her tree too, like your tuktuk :D

  8. Adrienne says:

    I always try to get souvenirs that are usable, like food, candies, alcohol, clothing, etc. I wrote about my favorite souvenirs here: http://www.adrienneaway.com/chiles-best-souvenirs/
    Adrienne recently posted…Shopping in SantiagoMy Profile

  9. […] is also a good option for you scrapbookers.  And for you even more creative types, how about a shadowbox detailed here at […]

  10. Steve says:

    My tip don’t buy souvenirs. It’s a waste of money.

  11. Jon says:

    Of course! I’ll keep it or make a gift for my girlfriend…

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